Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Être et Avoir (2002)

"Is this a normal colour bowel movement, teacher?"

Genre: Family Documentary (France)

Starring: Georges Lopez, JoJo, and scores of other children

Directed By: Nicolas Philibert

Overview: The study of a teacher and his kids in rural France shortly before his retirement.

Acting: STOP LOOKING AT THE CAMERA! I guess the young kids couldn't help it really. Does that mean they were acting really natural? When the cows started doing it though, I think the director should have called the actor's guild for some more natural looking cows. :P As for the teacher himself, he acted very natural, maybe a little TOO patient, for the camera's sake? Well maybe not, but the doubt is still there.
Rating: 6

The documentary is shot as a drama, none of this voice-over quick-fire editing. It was pastoral, calm, peaceful. Long soundtrackless scenes of one-on-one interaction, whether it's the teacher with the older kids, the younger kids, the parents, or the parents with their children, or the children with each other, the shooting is professional and soothing.
Rating: 8

The script had better be good. The documentarist had a whole year with these kids. And though it was in front of a camera, it still seemed unbidden by anything. As for the questions posed to the teacher in the little interview, they were well thought out.
Rating: 8

Easy, easy, easy. By that I guess I mean plotless. Slice of life movies can't ever score high here unfortunately, but the scene-to-scene flow was really well maintained and played out. Great continuity. The director knew well enough that our favorite character, JoJo should have appropriate focus.
Rating: 7

The slow mood of this film is great. Honestly, I thought that was a really well acted story, until I saw the poorly trained children, now and then looking up at the camera. That's when I started to wonder if it was actually a documentary. The interview with the teacher in the middle of the film made it clear that it was, and it was a really nice touch, getting his background and all that. Point is, the mood made me think it was a fictional drama, and it was a nice thing to see that a filmmaker could bend the rules enough to make it play out this well. Great job.
Rating: 8

"Now JoJo, didn't your mother teach you not to dookie your hands?" "No I saw her doing that with Daddy last night..."

Overall Rating: 74% (Pleasant)

Aftertaste: The cutest film I've seen in a long time. If you like kids, you'll really like this. I found myself bringing it up in conversation, because it was so different and original. Also, I guess, because this really isn't my kind of movie. I'm more of a dark, brooding, tragic, heavy kind of filmgoer. It's nice to see something so very innocent sometimes. Makes you remind yourself why you're so cynical... To protect the children.